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Virgin Orbit’s launch business sold for parts to Vast, Stratolaunch, and Rocket Lab

Virgin Orbit, once valued at $3.7B, has been chopped up for parts.

The company has concluded the auction for some of its assets, which were put up for sale as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Altogether, the three winning bids come to around $36 million dollars.

The winning bids were submitted by Rocket Lab, Launcher (and its parent company, Vast), and Stratolaunch. According to court filings, Rocket Lab will get Virgin’s 140,000-square foot Long Beach, California-based manufacturing facility for $16.1 million; Launcher successfully bid for the Mojave-based facilities for $2.7 million; and Virgin’s “Cosmic Girl” aircraft and related assets will go to Stratolaunch for $17 million.

Stratolaunch had submitted a “stalking horse” bid for the modified Boeing 747 aircraft earlier this month. A stalking horse bid sets the minimum floor price for the assets, so it appears that Virgin did not receive any competing bids for that property.

TechCrunch has reached out to Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch and Vast and will update the story if they respond.

Virgin Orbit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 4 months of bad news: in January, a failed rocket launch from Cornwall, U.K., followed by an announcement that it was furloughing most of its staff due to insufficient capital. The company entered bankruptcy after it failed to secure additional funding to continue operations.

Virgin – to be distinguished from Virgin Galactic, a company that launches humans to space – had developed a novel way of sending small payloads into orbit using a modified Boeing 747 jet and a small rocket called LauncherOne. According to some estimates, Virgin Orbit spent upwards of $1 billion developing the modified jet and rocket launch system.

All in all, the winning bidders are getting a steal. Rocket Lab already has a massive footprint in Long Beach, and it will only benefit from the additional square footage and machines, like 3D printers and specialty tank welding machines. Vast, which has ambitions of launching the first private space station, will get the Mojave leases for test stands and an aircraft hangar. And Stratolaunch, the company purchasing Cosmic Girl, is getting the plane for just a small fraction of its development price.


According to court filings, the final sale hearing is scheduled for May 24 at 2PM EST.


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